Travel Agent non complaince with canceled flights due to Covid restrictions

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Nov 9, 2020
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Purchased Economy Plus non-refundable fares for ten travelers for July 1, 2020. Covid restrictions canceled the flights in June. Airline refunded Travel Agent (TA) the full amount TA paid them. I then found out that TA charged me double the amount they paid the airline. I protested and the TA agreed in writing to credit me the airline’s refunded amount and issue TA vouchers for the other half. Please note that both the airline and TA waived the non-refundable provision due to Covid. Up to now TA credited me only 39 per cent of the airline’s refund.


I lodged disputes with my credit card banks, who are atemping to make the TA’s bank to resolve this matter to my satisfaction. I refused to acccept any vouchers for I do not trust the TA and they may go out of business.


I have requested Elliott Advocacy for assistance. Any helpfull advice is appreciated.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
24,744
25,899
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Unfortunately, DOT refund rules only apply if you book directly with an airline, not through a travel
agency. Most travel agencies are refunding- but not all.

It is possible the travel agency charged their own fees and that’s why you didn’t receive a full refund. Some charge hundreds of dollars for booking tickets and that’s why the refund they are offering is only part of what you paid.

What is the name of the travel agency you booked through? We would need to see their terms and conditions to see if they offer refunds or if they add a surcharge to tickets.

Since you have already filed a credit card dispute, you’ll need to see if they rule in your favor. That’s the best we can offer right now. If you lose the dispute, let us know and we can offer you other options. But you have filed already which is your best option so you’ll need to wait and see what the bank rules.
 
Jul 13, 2020
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It really is not relevant what the OTA paid for the tickets. You agreed to the OTA's terms and price they charged you when you booked this ticket. Think of it this way , When you buy a box of toilet paper on sale for 5.00 a pack. Does it matter if the store paid 1.00 or 4.00? No ,the price was 5.00 and you liked the price and bought the TP. It is the same with an OTA or reseller. They are not in business to sell you a ticket for what they pay. Their overhead is big and they have to have a model that makes money. If your ticket was non refundable you are only due what ever the price you paid minus what ever this companies terms and conditions say is their fee for cancellations ( for this fee it does not matter who cancels the flight you or the airline). You should go back and read the OTA's terms and conditions. this can include no refunds , only a future travel voucher.
The fact that the OTA is offering you a voucher may hinder you getting a cash refund from your credit card. To get the future travel voucher you may have to provide a letter from your credit card showing you dropped the charge back.
I would wait till your CC has made a final decision. For many this is taking 2 months or so. The CC should give you a temporary credit now but once they decide who they find for they will either make your temp credit permanent or they will re-bill you the amount of your temporary credit.
I would wait till they decide against you to try for the voucher. If you win then you get your money back so all is good.
These are the downfalls of both booking with an OTA and not direct and booking Non Refundable fares.
 

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
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This is how travel agents make money today especially now that airlines no longer pay commission. You may even have paid less than you would have done without the agent being involved. The agent has to make a living.
 
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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
It really is not relevant what the OTA paid for the tickets. You agreed to the OTA's terms and price they charged you when you booked this ticket. Think of it this way , When you buy a box of toilet paper on sale for 5.00 a pack. Does it matter if the store paid 1.00 or 4.00? No ,the price was 5.00 and you liked the price and bought the TP. It is the same with an OTA or reseller. They are not in business to sell you a ticket for what they pay. Their overhead is big and they have to have a model that makes money. If your ticket was non refundable you are only due what ever the price you paid minus what ever this companies terms and conditions say is their fee for cancellations ( for this fee it does not matter who cancels the flight you or the airline). You should go back and read the OTA's terms and conditions. this can include no refunds , only a future travel voucher.
The fact that the OTA is offering you a voucher may hinder you getting a cash refund from your credit card. To get the future travel voucher you may have to provide a letter from your credit card showing you dropped the charge back.
I would wait till your CC has made a final decision. For many this is taking 2 months or so. The CC should give you a temporary credit now but once they decide who they find for they will either make your temp credit permanent or they will re-bill you the amount of your temporary credit.
I would wait till they decide against you to try for the voucher. If you win then you get your money back so all is good.
These are the downfalls of both booking with an OTA and not direct and booking Non Refundable fares.
The OP said nothing about using an OTA. Why did you conclude this?
 
Jul 13, 2020
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My bad, He said travel agent I just assumed an online one.
But the model is the same and i stand by the fact that it is irrelevant what the travel agent pays for the tickets. All that matters is what the client agrees to pay. The op agreed to the price and was happy till they realized the travel agent made a bit of money on their tickets. And as Barry Graham has already stated that the OP might have paid less then then the best priced flight direct with the airline and might have received the best possible price that was available when he booked his ticket.
To the OP did you book with a travel agent or an online one?
If you booked with a brick and mortar Travel agent, you should take a look at the paperwork you were given by the travel agent. If the agent did not have you sign anything and just took your money and handed you tickets then I would think you are due a full refund if the airline canceled the flight ( not you canceling the flight). I am surprised the TA refused to refund. It might not be right but it might be that the TA has no money at all to give you back and offers you the voucher as the only option they have. I am not saying what they are doing is right, I am saying for the TA this might be the only option. They may have run through all their operating cash, their personal bank accounts and their credit cards are so maxed getting more is impossible.
I think the credit card charge back is a good step and hope you succeed. If you did not agree to anything in the terms and conditions of the travel agent that allows the TA to refuse your refund, then I would think you would get your payment back.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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It sounds like the OP's TA bought non-published air, probably from a travel supplier. I am a travel agent. I do charge fees for airline tickets. I have one fee for domestic, and one fee for international tickets. I research the best routing, schedule, and price for my clients. I am clear about the cost of the ticket and of my non-refundable fees. But sometimes I use a travel supplier who has contracts with deeply discounted (non-published) air tickets. Those travel suppliers do not break down the costs of the air, hotel etc. It is a "package deal". Sounds like that is what the OP has. In those cases, the TA can charge whatever they want as a fee. I do think 50% is a steep mark-up, though!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
24,744
25,899
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
It sounds like the OP's TA bought non-published air, probably from a travel supplier. I am a travel agent. I do charge fees for airline tickets. I have one fee for domestic, and one fee for international tickets. I research the best routing, schedule, and price for my clients. I am clear about the cost of the ticket and of my non-refundable fees. But sometimes I use a travel supplier who has contracts with deeply discounted (non-published) air tickets. Those travel suppliers do not break down the costs of the air, hotel etc. It is a "package deal". Sounds like that is what the OP has. In those cases, the TA can charge whatever they want as a fee. I do think 50% is a steep mark-up, though!
Well said and I agree 100%. The OP never questioned the price before the cancellation but agreed to the price when he booked. Also - non-published prices are sometimes non-refundable period, whether or not the airline cancels the flight or the client does.
 
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